August 16, 2006

Sober Awakenings - The Aftermath

So it's over , so I am told . The noise of guns and bombs have been silenced to give way to naked reality and human cries . In the aftermath of war mathematics ....

South Beirut : A mass of rubbles underneath which dead human flesh is rotting away . The smell is obnoxious. People scurrying around with masks on their faces with dazed eyes - expressionless - in front of the horror . Some are trying to find where their home is , would they be able to recognize it ? some are taking pictures as if to tell themselves , yes it really happened. It was not just a very bad nightmare, it really took place .

South Lebanon : The earth has turned dark brown bordering on black. The grass has turned yellow, the land is scorched . More rubbles . Endless sights of devastated villages . Villages where once there was a life .Now nothing reigns but the smell of death .

Nabatiyeh : Abu Zeynab is old , he has seen wars before , but from the expression in his eyes , I could tell it was nothing like this one . He owned a little shop , it is gone . Another war that has further marked his face - ridden with the lines of history and time .

Ait Shaab : Umm and Abu Hussein , an elderly couple , lie on the floor . Someone has covered them with a piece of torn curtain . Their limbs have turned blue and are decomposing. Flies hover over them like vultures hover over dead carcasses.

Marjoyon : Deserted . The hospital was abandoned due to heavy bombardements. The personel ran away , leaving patients to fend for themselves . The wounded healing the sick and the sick giving care to the wounded . Even the ancient church was not spared , seems God's saints had to taste death again .

Tyre : Fatima lies in the only hospital that is still functional . She must be around 7 to 9 years old . Her burns are so severe , the doctor shakes his head . He has never seen anything like that before .The burns have gone deep to the bones . "No cellular regeneration possible "- "It is chemical burns " he adds . In another room lies Hassan , he is about 35- a family man . He is bandaged from head to toe . The only thing visible are his lips - swollen , dark red . He speaks very softly and says :" I went to check on my only source of livelihood , my shop- They dropped a bomb and my body caught fire . Nothing remained on me , not even my clothes , only a piece of my leather belt was not consumed by the raging fire ".
Maybe we should offer the rest of the leather belt to Israel as a war trophy !

More villages : The same story repeats itself but with different names . Dead children lying like rag dolls under the mass of rubbles . Devastation and more devastation . The same odor that permeates south Beirut, permeates the whole of the South .

Bekaa : same pictures , same stories , same smell . I see a little boy holding a plastic bag , scavenging what is left of his home . He picks a plastic cup and what looks like a school book and diligently puts them in his bag . Furtively looking for more and not finding anything else to salvage , he ties his bag and walks away . I did not dare ask if his family was alive or dead .

The Sea cost : A thick black slime shines under the sun , preventing the waves from embracing the sand . On the horizon, Israeli warships loom at large waiting for more suffering . The sea feels heavy . I think it is silently crying .

The Israelis are pulling away so it seems . Someone caught a glimpse in the eyes of one of the soldiers . He had vicious contempt in them . He grinned , made the V sign and made a final exhibition of his markava bulldozer , proud and satisfied with himself . He started moving slowly over the burnt grass and the few daisies that managed to survive and slowly dissapeared leaving behind him a cloud of dust ....